All tagged History

Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age

In Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age, historian Bruce Watson, weaves a masterful story of our changing relationship to light - from the mystical to the quantum. In the end though, it is our hunger to  understand one of the most complex aspects of our universe, that drives us forward to even stranger insights. A reminder that even the most omnipresent natural forces has many secrets yet to reveal. 

Long Term Thinking

The Notre Dame cathedral is a perfect example of a generational project, taking many human lifetimes to complete. Its partial destruction reminds us of the importance of fortitude for long term projects. Many of the greatest science, art and engineering projects took decades to see outcomes. This is especially pertinent in our age of instant gratification. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Can the Internet Be More Than a Soapbox?

People are consuming dangerous materials in a desperate hope for medical cures. It’s an old problem, but I think the network technologies we’ve constructed make it harder for these sorts of ideas to be expunged. We’ve given edge beliefs the largest soapbox in the world. Instead of being brought out into the light of the day, challenged and deconstructed, beliefs are driven down deeper into the fabric of the internet. Christopher Roosen explores. 

Powerful Learning Comes From A Two Thousand Year Old Idea

Want to innovate education? Maybe focus less on educational technology and more on designing how people collaborate. In this spirit, I suggest we bring back the dialectic conversation. The dialectic is an ancient Greek method of learning that uses conversation to explore complex ideas. I think the dialectic a vastly under-utilised way of learning and I offer a small invented example of a moment of conversational learning.

A Lawn Story

The humble personal lawn, one per household, seem to be an intrinsic part of life, mainly because we don’t remember the choices and incentives that went in to making them that way. Strangely, our individual and personal lawns may be a powerful force of environmental destruction. We are caught in the grip of an irrational set of historical design choices.

Decay of Digital Data - A New Dark Age

We like to think that improvements in technology will create a world tomorrow that is better than today. However, we are rushing forward into a world where popular music videos are replicated thousands of times, but crucial windows into human life, legal decisions and precious research is lost. We are letting popularity algorithms and business models determine what is kept. It cuts right to the heart of our ownership over information and our responsibility to maintain it for the future. We’ve conceived this digital world of information as a system that we would manage with a top-down intelligence, but we’ve proven incapable of managing it well. 

Shopping Malls: When a Good Idea Met Opposing Incentives

The creation of community, which no doubt includes healthy commerce, was Victor Gruen’s original dream for shopping malls. This is not the same as the design of an inward turning space that encourages shopping as a means to an end. It just goes to show, the best design intentions only come into their own, when they align with the right incentives. Fit good intentions to opposing incentives and the outcome may disappoint you.

The Underrated Power of Procedure

There is evidence that organisational procedures restrict women’s right to express milk for their children. Want to change the world? Set aside technology for a moment and have a look at how organisational rules, procedures and rules impact people. Crucially, spend some time learning about the cultural norms that bend and twist how procedures are (or are not) enforced. These intangible things have hypnotic power on how people act.